We have spent four of the last five Canada Day long weekends taking a mini-vacation in the southern Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, Canada. Our friends and family constantly ask why we LOVE this part of Canada so much that we keep going back. We’ve narrowed it down to the top five reasons below.
Additional pictures are available in our Okanagan gallery (Click Here).
The Okanagan Valley’s reputation in the international wine community continues to grow. While it is often referred to as “Canada’s Napa Valley”, we vastly prefer the wine made here to that in California. Then again, never has either of us uttered “I feel like some wine, something buttery!” Each time we visit the Okanagan, we book a private wine tour to check out 4-5 wineries without having to worry about driving. We also go to a couple of other wineries on our own to pick up a favourite bottle or to grab lunch – some of the best restaurants in the region are at wineries (more on this later).
A few of our favourite wineries are:
At the end of our three days, we’d typically ship 2-3 cases of wine back to our home in Ontario (trust us, it’s legal-ish).
Every year we have gone, we fly into Kelowna (the largest city in the region) or Penticton (a smaller town closer to the Southern Okanagan). We always arrive to sunny skies and warm temperatures (late 20s-low 30s). The region south of Penticton to Osoyoos is essentially desert, so there isn’t much rain to spoil any vacation plans. Don’t forget to bring your shades and sunscreen!
Shortly after driving out of trafficky and unattractive Kelowna, the scenery turns spectacular along the Okanagan highway (highway 97). With nice views of Lake Okanagan and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains all along the coastal highway, you’ll be wishing you were out on the lake on a boat.
Side note – We recommend staying in Penticton and renting a speedboat or jet ski from the waterfront for an hour or two.
The Okanagan Valley is a very popular place for people to own investment properties. While there are some condos available in the region, we have always rented a full house given there are many more options to choose from and the price is comparable to condos and so reasonable. In 2015, for example, we rented a large, fully-furnished modern four-bedroom house (we went with another couple) in Okanagan Falls that had a huge balcony with lake and mountain views (and a nice BBQ) for roughly $350 per night. There are many rental websites these days but we typically use HomeAway.com. There are also your typical hotels/motels with a lot of independent operators.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the region’s best restaurants are located at wineries. Some of our favourites that we keep going back to are:
If we ever get bored traveling the world and decide to settle back in Canada, we could see the Okanagan Valley being where we end up. We just need to figure out some way to make money once we’re there.